Samir Kerketta looks to make Odisha proud at AFC U16 Championship

NEW DELHI: With the AFC U-16 Championships just a few days away, the Indian team has already set sail for the Malaysian shores. As the preparations for the Colts’ biggest tournament of the year goes on in full flow, defender Samir Kerketta is one player who will be looking to shoulder the defensive responsibilities as a fullback.

What makes the tournament all the more special for Kerketta is that he is one of the two players from his state, Odisha, to be selected in the squad by coach Bibiano Fernandes.

Despite the fact that the expectations of the entire state are upon his shoulders, Kerketta is one customer who has played a number of games with this bunch of players and will be looking to use all the experience he has garnered during the exposure tours.

“The team is really focused at this stage. We all want to give our 100 percent and finish top two in the group stages,” said Kerketta. “But a quarterfinal finish is not exactly what we are looking for.”

The youngster further went on to state that the ultimate goal for the entire team is to qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will be held in Peru.

“Only a semifinal finish can guarantee us a spot in the U-17 World Cup next year, and that is exactly what we are looking to achieve,” he said.

Having been one of the most reliable fixtures in Bibiano Fernandes’ starting XI over the past year, attending plenty of exposure tours, where the Blue Colts have impressed one and all.

Now the diminutive fullback will be looking to do just the same at the continental extravaganza, that gets underway in a few days in Malaysia. The India U-16 side has been grouped with Iran, Vietnam, and Indonesia in Group C.

They get their campaign underway against Vietnam on Friday, before facing title favorites Iran on Monday, September 24. Their final group game against Indonesia is on Thursday, September 27.

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